Dear Amy: I am so angry with my mother. My father was abusive, and during his rages when I was a child, my mother would defend him or ignore it completely — as it was going on! I don’t understand her refusal to protect her own child.
I want to have a long, deep conversation about everything. But she refuses! Whenever I bring it up, she gets upset, insists that she was a good mother and won’t talk about it.
I need this closure so I won’t be so angry all the time. I need to tell her how I feel so we can start to heal things. But I can’t force her to talk to me.
I have poured my heart out to a therapist, but it’s my mother I really need to speak to. Please help.
Amy says: I am so sorry that this happened to you.
You need to accept that you will not get what you are looking for from your mother. You didn’t get it as a child, and you likely won’t get it now. Even if you can persuade her to acknowledge what happened in your past, talking with her may not fix things for you. You may pour out your heart, and find that you’re still very angry. This is understandable.
Write down your story as a letter to your mother, written from the perspective of the hurt child. Share this with your therapist. Decide whether you want to send it. Then you should find ways to nurture and soothe the child within. Seek ways to “mother” yourself, bestowing the acceptance, love and support that you wish you’d had from her.
If you haven’t done so, visit the site for Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse (havoca.org), for ideas, suggestions and connections.
Recovery is a challenging process, and you may experience setbacks. Don’t let your mother’s denial derail your recovery.
Hubby not up to visit
Dear Amy: My sister’s husband loves to fish with my husband, who is disabled. Years ago, my brother-in-law started coming for a week each year to stay with us and fish with my husband.
We have never invited him. He never gives us more than a week’s notice, but I have been receptive because my sister gets a much needed break from him (he snores loudly and she cannot sleep). We have a pack of dogs that bark the entire time he is in our home. My nerves are shot by the time he leaves.
This year, he is coming again. The problem is that my husband cannot do this like he used to, but won’t admit it. I work, and having my brother-in-law here is a huge burden on me.
Please tell me how to tell my sister and her husband this without hurting their feelings or causing any anger.
Amy says: I assume there were several years where this loose arrangement worked out well, and now it is an annual “tradition.”
If you want this behavior to stop, you will have to set boundaries and be clear about your needs. If your husband no longer wants to do this but can’t say so, you should do it on his behalf.
Contact your sister and brother-in-law and tell them, “This annual visit worked out for many years, and ‘Bart’ loved his fishing time. But he’s not well enough to do this, and I am overwhelmed, so we’re going to have to cancel this year’s visit. Let’s talk about a weekend date when we can all get together.”
Be direct, honest, friendly and firm. Don’t pile on explanations about the dogs or other disruptions. Use the word “cancel.” And take good care of yourself.
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